Loden fills out his team

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Public School District rounded out its administrative lineup Tuesday.
Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden recommended Pierce Street Principal Kim Britton to serve as assistant superintendent.
Itawamba Attendance Center principal Kenneth Goralczyk, who taught at Tupelo High School for several years, was tapped to replace Britton as Pierce Street principal.
South Delta Elementary Principal Michael Johnson, who has experience as a high school teacher and administrator, was chosen to fill the newly created position of High School Advancement Academy principal.
“All three candidates bring to the table a combination of elementary and secondary backgrounds,” Loden said.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Loden presented a new organizational chart to the Board of Trustees.
Under the new chart, all of the district’s principals will report directly to the superintendent. The assistant superintendents, along with the directors of curriculum, finance and human resources also will report directly to Loden.
“If we’re focused on instruction, in my opinion, the principals need to report directly to the superintendent,” Loden said.
In practice, the principals had all directly reported to Interim Superintendent David Meadows, but in the previous organizational chart developed by former superintendent Randy Shaver, they reported to the two assistant superintendents.
“Even though we have a chain of command, we will all need to work together,” Loden said.
Under the new organizational chart, Assistant Superintendent Matt Dillon will be the go-to person for secondary schools, overseeing school improvement, discipline monitoring, alternative and non-traditional programs and student/parent issues for grades six through 12. He also will handle teacher incentives, employee travel and attendance as well as several community outreach programs.
Assistant Superintendent Diana Ezell is tasked with a range of compliance and policy issues such as SACS accreditation, Title IX and dropout prevention. She also will oversee special education, AP courses and gifted education and the dropout prevention plan as well as school nurses and wellness programs.
In her new role, Britton will oversee federal programs, summer school, technology, new teacher orientation and athletics. She is designated as the point person for elementary student/parent issues and discipline monitoring.
Curriculum Director Leigh Mobley will oversee areas such as professional development, integration of grants and testing.
Britton, who has 17 years to her credit as an educator, has served as an administrator in Tupelo since 2004, when she was tapped as an assistant high school principal at Tupelo High School. She was the principal at Carver Elementary before moving to Pierce Street three years ago. In her new role, Britton, who earned master’s and specialist degrees from Mississippi College, succeeds Fred Hill, who has accepted a position as superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District.
“She’s very well rounded and passionate about meeting the needs of teachers and improving student achievement,” Loden said.
Britton said she will miss the daily contact with students and teachers at Pierce Street.
“That’s been my family for three years; it’s bittersweet,” Britton said. “I’m looking forward to having an impact on a greater number of students.”
Strong ties
Goralczyk has strong ties to the Tupelo Public School District. He began his career as an educator at Tupelo High School in 2002, where he taught physical education and Mississippi studies and served as a football coach. His wife Ashley Goralczyk is a Tupelo High School alumna.
“This is home to me,” Goralczyk said, who also has taught at Guntown Middle School and Itawamba Community College. “Both my wife and I have taught in TPSD classrooms, so we are very aware of the outstanding and rigorous curriculum.”
Goralczyk, who earned a master’s degree from the University of Mississippi, has served as the principal for Itawamba Attendance Center, a kindergarten through eighth grade campus, for the past three years. During that time, the school has improved its rating from Successful to High Performing.
Loden said he was impressed by Goralczyk’s focus on the needs of his students and his ability to use data to improve student achievement.
New face
Johnson, who holds a doctorate degree from Jackson State University, will take up a critical role as the new principal of the High School Advancement Academy, which focuses on helping students who are more than two years behind earn a diploma or a GED.
“It’s an extension of the high school,” Loden said. “The advancement academy has the potential to help us save a lot of our students” who would be at risk of dropping out.
Johnson started his career as an educator as a math teacher at Provine High School in Jackson. In 2005, he started his administrative service as an assistant principal in Meridian. He also has served as an administrator in Jackson Public Schools.
Since 2009, he has served has principal at South Delta Elementary, which has maintained its rating as a Successful or High Performing school under his watch. He was named the 2010 Administrator of the Year for the Mississippi Delta Region by America Reads Mississippi.
“My family and I are excited about becoming a part of this wonderful community,” Johnson said.
michaela.morris@journalinc.com